Writing

Confused? Use the Writing Process to Move your Project Along

The following are the words of Liz Cooper, Archway Publishing author of “Granny’s Teeth: A Collection of Quirky Rhyming Tales.” For more information on Liz or her book, find her on her website, Facebook or Twitter. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

I recently met a college English major. He spent his summer working on a novel before giving up. When I asked him what his novel was about, he shrugged and said, “I don’t know, I started writing, and I waited for it to reveal itself.” He couldn’t even tell me the genre. Wow. He seemed to think that a great novel would just “happen.” No wonder he became discouraged. He didn’t take advantage of the Writing Process.

I’ve taught writing to elementary students up through college freshman. Convincing aspiring writers, to mindfully use the Writing Process can be challenging. Many writers like to “wing it.” I tell them that It’s better to follow these steps:

Brainstorming

The old adage, ‘write what you know’ is true. For my book, Granny’s Teeth – A Collection of Quirky Rhyming Tales, I knew I wanted to write funny stories about kids at play. I thought about my own childhood experiences at the beach and sleeping at my grandmother’s house where I loved watching her take her false teeth out at night. As I reminisced, my imagination kicked in. What if the ocean was alive and tried to steal a boy’s sand castle? What if Granny loaned her homesick grandchild her false teeth in a jar to keep her company? Even better, what if the teeth started talking and kept the child up all night?

Plan

Make a plan, even if it’s jotting down a short summary of the beginning, middle, and ending of the story on the back of a napkin. Some people like to type a formal outline or use a graphic organizer. Make an overall book plan before breaking it down further. When I wrote Francois and the Tide, the first story in my book, the basic plot was comprised of five simple sentences: Boy builds a sand castle, Ocean knocks sand castle over, Boy digs a hole, Ocean fills it up. Boy discouraged until he finds a seashell.

Rough Draft

The next step is to commit your story to paper as quickly as you can. Your draft doesn’t have to be neat. I like scribbling or typing as quickly as I can before I forget my great ideas. This is a picture of the very first draft of Bertram Butternut- Innovator, another tale in Granny’s Teeth. It’s a mess, but I knew I wanted Bertram to keep coming up with new ideas in a cause and effect formula until he finally grows an apple tree. As you can see, my brain was moving faster than my pen.

Revise, Revise, Revise

Revising is my favorite part of the writing process. I change words, add transitions, move things around, and attend to the details that make the writing come alive and ensure that the story makes perfect sense. For Francois, I substituted interesting words, i.e. fortress instead of a castle. I added personification; the ocean and the boy taunt each other over who is going to prevail. Lastly, I made several changes to make sure that my rhyming wasn’t forced. It must have worked because this story came in the top ten out of a field of 5,000 entries in a writing contest sponsored by a major publisher.

Editing

The very last step is editing. I highly recommend that authors invest in professional editing. I taught a college grammar course, and I still make mistakes! Errors in usage, punctuation, and spelling distract the reader and blur the author’s message. I used Archway’s excellent editorial service and it was well worth it!

As simple as it sounds, it’s true. Using the Writing Process will provide the orderly steps for completing a successful, and enjoyable, writing project.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share a guest blog post, please visit our Blog Guidelines Page.

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Writing

Tips for Beating Writer’s Block, Part One

Today we’d like to begin discussing something that affects all writers, self-published or otherwise. Yeah, you know what it is already: writer’s block.

Why are there so many articles on writer’s block? Probably because writer’s block is to authors what a pulled muscle is to an athlete: one of the common denominators of the trade, something every participant can identify with. And like that pulled muscle, it’s one of the most frustrating.

So beginning today, we kick off a four-part series of tips for beating writer’s block. Let’s get started!

Remember what writer’s block is, and isn’t.

“Writer’s block.” It sounds so impenetrable, doesn’t it? And that’s part of the problem. But it’s not a wall or a force field or a dead-end street. It’s just a temporary inability for a writer to decide on the best direction for their story. Realize that there IS a best direction; you just haven’t figured it out yet. Relax!

Remember, you’re in good company!

Charles Dickens has had it. Ditto for Stephen King, John Grisham, J. K. Rowling, Tom Clancy, Stephanie Meyer, and James Patterson. You name the author, and it’s guaranteed that (s)he has stared at the monitor, blank sheet of paper, or piece of parchment and thought, “I have no idea what to write.”

And you know what? They went on to write classics and bestsellers. A problem doesn’t seem so insurmountable when you see other people solve it, does it? Well, every writer in the history of the craft has solved it; you will too.

Lower your standards.

Poet William Stafford perhaps said it best: “There’s no such thing as writer’s block for writers whose standards are low enough.” He wasn’t promoting substandard writing, of course. The point is, it’s common for writers to set unreasonably high standards that aren’t achievable on a consistent basis. Remember, a lot of your story is going to manifest itself in the rewrite, not the first draft. The important thing is to just keep moving forward; you can always come back and fix that “clunky” scene later!

Just skip it!

So you’ve already written “A,” “B,” and “C,” and you have “F” and “G” plotted out. But you’re stuck on “D” and “E,” and have no idea what to do with them. Sure, you can pound your head on the desk until you figure it out, or you can just skip ahead for now! Jump to the next place in your story where you’re on “sure footing,” and start writing from there. You can always figure out the gaps later–and you will!

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share a guest blog post, please visit our Blog Guidelines Page.

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Writing

Combining Fact and Fiction- a Children’s Journey to Knowledge

The following are the words of Laura Wiener, Archway Publishing author of “The Mysterious Dripping Drops”. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

Why Did I Write My Book?

I began writing my book, The Mysterious Dripping Drops, with four basic goals in mind. I wanted to educate children about the beauty, intricacy, and delicate balance of life in the rainforest and neighboring areas. I wanted the children to become a part of an Amazon adventure where new facts, explanations, and events were page turners. I wanted the children to identify with the characters and journey along with them sharing their happiness, fears, and hopes. I wanted the children to become aware of the threat of the rainforest destruction leading to the extinction of plants and animals due to deforestation, arson and climate change.

About My Book

Having a doctorate in biology and a degree in education, I combined my knowledge and skills to write a story about two ants. One, a red army ant from a deciduous forest loses his home to clear-cutting, fires, and floods. She is swept down the Amazon River and finds herself in the rainforest. The leafcutter ants find her unconscious by the banks of the river and bring her back to their colony. One of the chief worker ants befriends her, and the two ants journey through the rainforest looking for the wise sloth that can help the red ant find her way back home. On the journey, the ants encounter many challenges and also comical events which help explain the ecology of the Amazon.

To write this book, I planned six basic steps.

Research:
I became an expert and tried to research all and everything about the Amazon rainforest and including the deforestation. I read articles online, went to libraries, spoke with Brazilians who had lived near the rainforest and collected as much data as deemed necessary. I also visited the rainforest.

Major Scientific/Environmental Topics:
I decided which scientific/ environmental topics I wanted to address in the story.

Character Development:
I chose which animals would be the best candidates for the story. The ants are creatures that are key to the environment but often overlooked when children are researching the rainforest. The ants with their small size could journey through the rainforest and witness many events undetected.

Plot Development:
I wove the plot around the topics and characters I chose in the previous steps.

Illustrator:
For the illustrations, I chose an illustrator from South America who was familiar with the landscape of the rainforest.

Publisher:
Archway has been a wonderful choice for my publishing needs. From the onset to end, their expertise, friendly manner, quick responses to any questions and quality work have been true assets. I couldn’t be happier with the end product; the illustrations, text and overall layout are professional and highly attractive. The Author Learning Center has also offered invaluable webinars and made the marketing aspects a lot more understandable.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share a guest blog post, please visit our Blog Guidelines Page.

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Marketing

Marketing Your Book

The following are the words of Angela Adley, Archway Publishing author of “Growing Up without My Daddy”. Learn more about Angela on her website, her book’s website or Facebook page. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

Have a Marketing Strategy

In 2015, I entered into a marketing campaign offered through Archway Publishing which partnered with the Bohlsen Group to advertise my book titled, Growing Up without my Daddy. The Bohlsen Group offers unified marketing that uses both conventional and unconventional marketing tactics and services.

During my six week campaign, I was assigned to a publicist who worked to understand my audience and generated momentum in line with my personal goals. During my marketing campaign, my publicist released a general press release, targeted pitches to media outlets in my hometown, local interest areas, and requested areas. Additionally, my publicist reached outlets focused on children’s interest, human interest, Christianity, religion, spirituality, healing, parenting, childcare, child development, and family interest outlets.

The Benefits of Using an Advertising Firm

Using a public relations/advertising firm allowed me to reach a variety of outlets that as a first-time author would be difficult for me to navigate independently. My publicist was able to secure media interviews with local, out-of-state radio stations, and online radio shows. Additionally, the Bohlsen Group was able to secure publication in digital/online magazines.

During each week of my campaign, a report was provided to show strategic planning/progress made toward weekly targets, which was very helpful to visualize the direction/progress of my marketing campaign. This information was also later helpful for my personal use when following-up with specific outlets that had not responded by the end of my six-week campaign.

Marketing Your Book Takes Time

Authors should know that media relations are a tenuous process that may take weeks, months, or longer to come back to fruition. Thus the final marketing report provided valuable insight into my brand platform and how that could possibly coincide with personal marketing efforts moving forward independently.

Overall, my marketing campaign was an insightful experience that became the starting point to market and share my book on a national level. The opportunity also guided me toward next steps and direction for marketing my book after the campaign. For authors interested in marketing their book with Archway Publishing or in general, I would recommend the following tips:

  • Determine your book goals
  • Determine your marketing goals
  • Determine the audience you wish to serve
  • Determine if target marketing options give you the right credibility
  • Determine if target marketing options access the right audience
  • Determine if target marketing options allow you to gain the right access to media
  • Determine if target marketing options allow you to gain the right visibility
  • Determine the financial return on your marketing investment/s

My book is truly a masterpiece, and I am grateful that I chose Archway to help with all aspects of its creation and marketing.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share a guest blog post, please visit our Blog Guidelines Page.

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Writing

Character and Topic Development

The following are the words of Gabrielle F. Culmer, Archway Publishing author of “Where Lives Lead”, “Glenely Bay and Nostalgia from Paris”, and “Arrive by Dusk.” For more on the author, visit her website, Facebook, and Twitter. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

Write What You Know

I was once told when studying for my “O” levels in high school to write about what I knew because it was my strong point. Since my early years consisted of scenic marine views, they usually have been a topic in my novels. I always concentrate on the aquamarine colors, the temperature of the water, its texture, the sensation of diving into the water and how it motivates my characters. My characters have a focal point where the topics arise from the scenery.

Turning Reality into Fiction

 I use this practice now for much that I write about and can extract topics from everyday life. If I am in a particular city to which I am accustomed, naturally it would present some element in my stories. It takes technique to turn this reality into fiction and have it removed to the third person of my character. How a character may feel would not necessarily be my point of view. It is important to both disassociate from myself to appreciate the character and delve into the imagination of how that character would react in reality. It is about their perspective and a different point of view.

The character’s point of view may be distinct from the writer and may not be a normal reaction; it should be respected. The character may be disliked because their life may appear too perfect or they may be unpopular. Whatever the situation, I try to make them more coherent to the reader and describe how they perceive their situation. The characters are usually complex and have some underlying issues beneath a perfect surface that may cause friction. Often, my characters can inspire others who may be facing a particular issue, or be overcoming a loss. The character’s personality nuances may be a subtle point which may go unnoticed to the reader at first, and then evolves, and is revisited.

I relish visiting parts of a town where a character may inhabit, or a theme in the novel, or a place I appreciate. I may imagine how a character may react in a very uncomfortable and unknown environment, or in a familiar setting.

“Where Lives Lead”, emphasizes family and career and is the continuation of the story-line of “Arrive by Dusk.” The story was still untold and I wanted to delve into the character’s new lifestyle as a married couple as well as add new characters and interests.

A Little About My Characters

The new character of the writer, Genevieve, shows a writer’s point of view in contrast to the other characters. There are also new characters in the form of film actors who also provide a new and interesting perspective. Whereas, Harriett strives for the reconciliation between theater, family, and reality. However, Mindy is an inspiring and constant figure who is a landscape artist as well as the main character. Blaine, her husband, may be viewed as successful, complex, and dutiful. The story is inspired by the notion that you can fulfill your dreams with dedication. It depicts the fast-paced NY life and the contrasting scenic and languid beach resort lifestyle. The central theme of the balance of career and family explores whether or not it is possible to have both, and is applicable to many people.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share a guest blog post, please visit our Blog Guidelines Page.

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Author Feature

Heaven’s Magic Bubble Machine

The following are the words of Teri Yuki, Archway Publishing author of “Heaven’s Magic Bubble Machine.” Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

Writing About Difficult Topics

Like many aspiring authors, I had an idea I wanted to share with others. My desire was to help children who were grieving due to the death of a loved one. For obvious reasons, this is not an easy subject to write about, particularly to an audience of children.

As a young child, I lost my mother due to a tragic accident. Growing up I often thought I would like to find a way to comfort children who were missing a loved one who had passed away. Most importantly I wanted to find a way that offered a positive and constructive outlet that would lighten little hearts with joy and laughter.

For several years I jotted down ideas as they came to me and vowed that when I retired my first project would be writing my book. But how was I going to approach writing a book with an upbeat message about a subject as difficult as death? How was I going to bring a smile to a grieving child’s face?

As I pondered these questions, I kept asking myself what activities children enjoy. What brings on the lovely sounds of a child’s laughter? What do children around the world have in common?

At this point, I was getting stressed about not being able to identify this critical component of the storyline. Finally, I decided to stop worrying and let the Universe provide the answer when the time was right. I continued to work on the manuscript, character development and planning the style of illustrations that were going to bring my book to life. Then one day (while performing some mundane household task, washing dishes I think) the answer just popped into my head.

BUBBLES!

Of course! BUBBLES are magical! Children love BUBBLES! Dogs and cats and baby elephants in the zoo love BUBBLES! That day HEAVEN’S MAGIC BUBBLE MACHINE went from being a Dream to a foreseeable RealityThe Universe did not let me down.

Now it was time to start searching for a publishing company. After talking to several companies, I decided to go with Archway. From the initial consultation to each department that assisted me, everyone was helpful and patient. I am thrilled with the end result.

As for marketing funds, I have to pace myself and search for creative ideas that other Indy authors have used. Author Solutions has some wonderful marketing programs to choose from. Through Author Solutions, I have participated in a very successful book signing at the LA Book Fair and the Goodreads Giveaway Program. My next marketing goal is the new Amazon Advertising program.

All of us have a unique story to tell. When the time comes that you decide to share your story, let Archway Publishing help bring your dream to reality.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share a guest blog post, please visit our Blog Guidelines Page.

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Author Feature

My Book Began Like A Double-Edged Sword

The following are the words of Sally Guynn, Archway Publishing author of “The Tortoise Tales.” For more on the author, visit her website and Facebook. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

How it all Began

I entertained fantasies about writing and painting as published and exhibited works ever since a young girl. Eventually, my dreams converged with a single passion to create a children’s book about animals. Was I biting off more than I could chew?

The children’s book idea endured through my work careers, and once I retired I wrote my memoirs for my family. It empowered me forward, but I soon discovered that my naïve notion to write a children’s book had morphed into something more challenging—a double-edged sword. On one edge was my dream to write and paint, a lifelong passion, waiting to be freed. The other edge was not knowing what I didn’t know. It dawned on me this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. A blade with two edges is a sword that can accomplish twice as much, right? The trick was learning how to handle it.

I began writing The Tortoise Tales and found Archway Publishing to help guide me and keep me from ripping my dreams apart with that big sharp sword. In the process, I discovered three things of value that I’d either underappreciated or simply never had a clue about:

1. Getting Clarity About The Type of Book
2. Maintaining A Sense of Urgency
3. Soliciting Feedback

Getting Clarity About The Type of Book

I’d always envisioned writing and illustrating a children’s picture book, but once the Archway Publishing staff helped me rethink the type of book, I realized several important misalignments. My writing voice wasn’t a good match for a picture book and preschoolers, my paintings more watercolors and washes than stylized illustrations, and my original target audience were now already reading for themselves.

Having already completed many paintings in color at this point, the Archway staff advised making the book more affordable by less artwork and matching more closely with my revised target audience–middle readers who preferred fewer illustrations, no color, and more text. Most importantly, I wanted my book to stimulate a curiosity about nature and wildlife in young people and influence them to go outside and enjoy it. Again, Archway to the rescue when they told me I didn’t need tons of color illustrations to accomplish that goal. Middle readers don’t like anything too babyish. I easily saw the wisdom in making changes to the book’s formatting.

Maintaining A Sense of Urgency

Putting off my children’s book for so long likely increased both my sense of urgency and desire to leave a legacy. But these were good things. Once I began writing The Tortoise Tales, I wrote, researched or edited several hours, at a minimum, every day. If a conflict arose, I made up the time the next day or evening. I believe having this strong sense of urgency elevated the task in my eyes, inadvertently preventing procrastination.

Soliciting Feedback

Soliciting feedback came naturally for me throughout the process. I didn’t resist experimentation and change. It allowed me to take risks that quite often led to improvements. And, perhaps because I’d been a teacher, I tested my stories in both public and private school classrooms and later with seniors over fifty years old at the Lifelong Learning Institute here in my city. Their collective feedback proved invaluable to the book as well as bolstering my confidence.

After the book was printed, I managed to spring for the additional dollars to purchase one of Archway’s professional review packages that included objective reviews from Kirkus, Blue Ink, and Clarion. I learned a huge lesson: If you want your book to succeed beyond peddling it out of the trunk of your car, you absolutely need to have it professionally reviewed to get it on the databases from which libraries and bookstores order.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share a guest blog post, please visit our Blog Guidelines Page.

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Author Feature

Controlling the Course of Events

The following are the words of Kathleen Glassburn, Archway Publishing author of “Making It Work.” For more on the author, visit her website and Facebook. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

My Journey to Self-Publishing

Reading and writing stories have been part of my life since first grade. The library was a more inviting place than the playground. I earned a BA in English and went on to earn an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis on Fiction. After having many short stories published, I wrote my first novel and decided to publish it. With an employment background in business, I am organized and don’t like to do projects according to other people’s timetables (or lack of timetables). I’m not patient when I have to wait around for things that I think could have been done in a more expeditious manner. I also don’t like my work being part of someone’s slush pile.

A friend had a book done by Archway Publishing and she gave an excellent recommendation. With my characteristics (I don’t like to call myself a “control freak” but perhaps, at times, this is a good description) I decided that self-publishing would be right for me.

Why I Love Archway

My novel has now been available for several months. It has received positive responses from readers (friends, acquaintances, as well as professionals with whom I’m not familiar). The book itself is beautiful. The cover that I was helped to choose is exactly as I wanted it to be. The text is clean. And, the symbolic images representing a major theme are tastefully done. Also, the book was completed in a timely way. I never had to wait for responses to my questions or updates on progress. Because of Archway’s conscientious attention to providing a meticulous package, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed interacting with my team of well-qualified and knowledgeable people.

I am so pleased with my novel that I have contracted for them to do a collection of my published short stories. I look forward to seeing these in an equally-beautiful book sometime this year.

To me, as a business-minded, independent person, who loves to write fiction, this is the most telling detail of my Archway experience — I am a return client.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share a guest blog post, please visit our Blog Guidelines Page.

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Author Feature

How a Good Girl, Proved that Kindness Still Matters!

The following are the words of Alexis Bloomer, Archway Publishing author of Good Girl Bad World” and “Kindness is Key.” For more on the author, visit her Facebook page, Twitter and website. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

The Inspiration for My Book

My freshman year of college (2012), I was sitting in my in college apartment at Sam Houston State University and I thought back to my first year in high school and remembered how lonely I felt that year. I was in college, making new friends and I was reminded of the past and the words that hurt me. Isn’t that crazy? How we can remember comments that hurt us, more than ones that celebrated us? Just like the hurtful comments, I remembered a comment from one of my favorite authors, Dr. Seuss, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not!” Such simple words that impacted my story, profoundly. Continue reading

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Writing

How I Wrote A Book in 100 Days and You Can Too

The following are the words of Pete Honsberger, Archway Publishing author of “Don’t Burn Your Toast.” For more on the author, visit his website and Facebook. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

Don’t Let Life Get in the Way of Your Goals

If you ever feel like your day-to-day life gets in the way of bigger goals, whether they are personal, professional, or both, I can empathize.  When I’m busy fulfilling my full-time job’s duties, attending meetings, sending emails, being a good family member, and so on, I often lose sight of the bigger picture.

But despite this reality of our busy lives and daily tasks, many of us have dreams of writing a book, owning a business, scaling a mountain, or even getting that promotion.  Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned in the 100 days it took me to write the first draft of my book is that such laser-focus and bite-sized activity on a consistent basis can apply to just about any project or dream. Continue reading

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